Hounded: The Lowdown on Life from Three Dachshunds

( 9 )

Overview

Living with three strong-willed, highly individual Dachshunds can be equal parts entertaining, frustrating and rewarding. Just ask Matt Ziselman.

Armed with a fresh, creative voice that is unabashedly cranky one moment and profoundly poignant the next, Ziselman mixes hilarious canine stories, with heartfelt reminiscences from his own life, the results of which is a memoir of illuminating life lessons, courtesy of the three thoroughly Teutonic Dachshunds that he shares his life ...

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Hounded: The Lowdown on Life from Three Dachshunds

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Overview

Living with three strong-willed, highly individual Dachshunds can be equal parts entertaining, frustrating and rewarding. Just ask Matt Ziselman.

Armed with a fresh, creative voice that is unabashedly cranky one moment and profoundly poignant the next, Ziselman mixes hilarious canine stories, with heartfelt reminiscences from his own life, the results of which is a memoir of illuminating life lessons, courtesy of the three thoroughly Teutonic Dachshunds that he shares his life (and couch) with: Baxter, Maya and Molly. Seemingly mundane moments, like Baxter's incessant, neuroses inducing staring, Maya's inexplicable refusal to walk through the front door and Molly's obsessive compulsive love for a torn and tattered blanket become, through Ziselman's insightful eyes, a treasure trove of observations that any dog-lover will appreciate. In a market where Americans spend more than $40 billion a year on their pets, this work of razor-sharp wit and quiet tenderness will reach out and grab readers everywhere by the heartstrings and-quite possibly-their leashes.

HOUNDED wraps universal insights in hot-dog-shaped packages, providing true dog lovers with many knowing nods, honest belly laughs and an accurate, warts-and-all reflection of the fascination, wonder and love that they have for their dogs.

And that Matt Ziselman obviously has for his.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"Nothing," Queen Victoria once pontificated, "will turn a man's home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a dachshund." By that standard, Mat Ziselman is a major landowner: He owns three. In Hounded, he shares his favorite stories about cohabiting with Baxter, Maya, and Molly. Each pooch, it seems, has his or her idiosyncrasies; none perhaps as mysterious as Molly's unstoppable love for a tattered blanket. Ziselman's acute observations about his trio of stubborn charges will win appreciative assent from dog owners who know that their constant companions have personalities all their own. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
This banal series of biographical essays purport to be life lessons the author gleaned from his three dogs. If the morals themselves came within a mile of profundity, readers would be more forgiving of Ziselman’s logical leaps and lame bromides, such as “Little things don’t mean a lot: They mean everything.” Former advertising creative director Ziselman postulates that the only reason one of his dachshunds is happy all the time is that she actually is aware of her own mortality (and knows every moment is precious). Life cycle events are treated with Seinfeld-lite snark (“I think that whole ‘beauty of childbirth’ thing doesn’t really kick-in until a snuggly soft blanket is caressing the baby and the daddy is being equally caressed by 20 mg of Valium”) that will distance many readers rather than inviting empathy. Sophomoric humor (“now’s as good time as any to tell you that there’s going to be a fair amount of this cheap word play, like that ‘shit you not’ line going on for the next few pages”) will also not be to all tastes. And self-adulation, as in a section where writers at a workshop tell him that he “can write ass off,” doesn’t help. Agent: Wendy Sherman, Wendy Sherman Associates. (May)
Wade Rouse
"A lovely, lyrical reminder that dogs aren't simply our best friends, they're also our best teachers, if we're only wise enough to pay attention. Ziselman is equal parts John Grogan and Andy Rooney: Funny, cranky, wise and heartbreakingly human. I can't tell you how much I love this book!"
From the Publisher
"A delightful and fun romp."—The Bark

"A lovely, lyrical reminder that dogs aren't simply our best friends, they're also our best teachers, if we're only wise enough to pay attention. Ziselman is equal parts John Grogan and Andy Rooney: Funny, cranky, wise and heartbreakingly human. I can't tell you how much I love this book!"—Wade Rouse, Author of It's All Relative and I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship

"Self-described 'cranky' author Ziselman has learned a number of things from owning three dachshunds, which he imparts in this charming and funny memoir.... What...makes [Hounded] hard to put down is Ziselman's wonderfully sharp, witty voice."—Booklist

"Unlike most of the books in the crowded genre that explore how dogs show us how to recalibrate our overwrought and over-stimulated lives, Hounded veers off the well-trod main road to find the intersection where humor, poignancy, and insight meet."—AKC Family Dog Magazine

The Bark
"A delightful and fun romp."
Booklist
"Self-described 'cranky' author Ziselman has learned a number of things from owning three dachshunds, which he imparts in this charming and funny memoir.... What...makes [Hounded] hard to put down is Ziselman's wonderfully sharp, witty voice."
AKC Family Dog Magazine
"Unlike most of the books in the crowded genre that explore how dogs show us how to recalibrate our overwrought and over-stimulated lives, Hounded veers off the well-trod main road to find the intersection where humor, poignancy, and insight meet."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455527014
  • Publisher: Center Street
  • Publication date: 5/13/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 490,025
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Matt Ziselman grew up in Long Island, New York. By the time he was twenty-five, he had worked as a stock boy, cab driver, landscaper, movie theatre manager, nightclub promoter, garbage man, stagehand and other assorted, deeply unfulfilling occupations. In other words, Matt was destined for advertising. First as a copywriter, and later as a Creative Director, Matt has been involved in marketing some of the world's leading brands, where his work has won numerous industry awards. When he's not placed in the awkward position of having to refer to himself in the third person, Matt lives in New Jersey where he tries to keep three Dachshunds, a 12-year old daughter and one wife blissfully happy, but not necessarily in that order.

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Read an Excerpt

Hounded

The Lowdown on Life from Three Dachshunds


By Matt Ziselman

Center Street

Copyright © 2014 Matt Ziselman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4555-2702-1



CHAPTER 1

Staring Contest, You and Me, GO!


I step across the threshold of the front door first; they follow, a submissive step behind me.

We begin our walk.

At 5:45, most of the neighborhood is still asleep. Until it awakens, the morning is ours. Today's forecast of sunshine is, at this early hour, a barely-there streak of pink above the treetops. My first intake of air feels like the first bite of a Granny Smith apple: crisp and sharp. As we move from driveway to sidewalk, a breeze winds through the trees, raining desiccated leaves of yellow and rust upon our heads. We start at a relaxed pace, allowing our bodies to adjust to being awake and in the weather. Each leash is loose, free of any tension, devoid of any restraint. They drape like fragile ribbons.

At six inches or so above the ground, their noses probe the air, taking in more discernible information in a sniff than I could in an interrogation. As we reach the bend in the road near the small field, a robin, obviously a recipient of the memo regarding the early bird catching the worm, pecks at the frosted soil for breakfast. We stop. They all turn their heads toward the robin. Their nostrils expand and contract. The robin freezes. For a moment, we're as still as a landscape. A second later, in a rush of feathers, the robin rises and flies over the bowed pines. In unison they exhale loudly, and we move on.

Farther along, one of our neighbors is walking out of his house with an insulated lunch bag hung on one shoulder and a hot cup of coffee in his hand, his car already idling at the curb.

"Morning. Out for an early walk?"

The four of us come to a slow stop. "Too nice of a morning to stay inside," I reply.

He kneels and begins to pet them. "Wow, they're really well behaved. No barking, no jumping. Hi, guys, how ya doin' today?"

"Yeah, well, we're having a good morning," I joke.

"You sure are," he says, as he continues to rub bellies and stroke ears. Then he says, "Well guys, I've gotta run. Have a good day, enjoy this weather."

"Will do. Come on, guys, let's go home."

He pulls away, and we are left once more under the boughs of shedding sycamores and in the silence of a hastening sunrise.

As we approach the skirt of our driveway we pick up speed and then glide to a soft stop by the garage doors. The leashes are as they began: limp and untangled. They each sit, tongues happily lolling sideways from the exertion, patiently waiting while I untether them from the nylon umbilical cords that connect me, in more ways than one, to them—and them to me.

"Stay," I instruct. The only parts of their bodies that move are their eyes. They're watching mine. I turn my back and walk up to the front door. I slide the key in, give it the necessary jiggle, turn the knob and swing the door wide. I look back at my three Dachshunds: Baxter, Maya, and Molly. They are stonelike and silent. I wait one more moment.

"Inside," I quietly say.

They rise from their haunches and walk—not run—but walk, as they should, through the front door. I pause a moment to look at the seasonal gift that is midautumn. I hear the clacking of nails on tile and the lapping of tongues on water. They are replenished. I am replenished. I say to myself, That was a beautiful walk.

"Hon."

"Beautiful walk."

"Babe."

"Walk."

"Matt, wake up!"

I pop up onto my elbow and the blanket and pillows tell me that I have gone nowhere. I'm in bed with my wife, Melissa—and once again, the dogs have entered my dreams.

"You okay?" she asks.

I take a swig of water from the bottle on my night table. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just dreamin'."

"Walk dream?"

I sigh. "I was talking again?"

"Yep. You gonna be able to fall back to sleep?"

"Yeah, sorry I woke you."

"It's okay, love you."

"Love you too."

I flip the pillow to the cool side and lay down again. I hear Melissa reconfigure herself in the sheets, facing away from me. We both settle in, once more, to the serious business of slumber.

Two minutes later I hear a single, sheet muffled word escape from my wife's once-again-drowsy lips: "Baxter."

I flip onto my side, punch the pillow, and whisper the same: "Baxter."


Baxter was our first Dachshund. We bought him from a breeder when we briefly lived just outside Atlanta. We got him when he was six weeks old, and he just turned five, so all totaled that's about four years and ten months of an exquisite kind of hell. Of course, to live with us for that amount of time Baxter must give all of us a great deal of joy, and he most certainly does. It's just that, well, that joy is usually tempered by moments of frustration, so pure and white hot, that it's amazing that he's lived with us for the past four years. And ten months.

Baxter is an extremely handsome dog. He has what's called in Dachshund circles a Roman nose: sizable, regal, straight as an arrow, two nostrils; it's—you know—a nose! He's a short-haired Dachshund, his coat soft and smooth to the touch; his ears feel closer to velvet than fur. He has a very deep, prominent chest, front paws the size of catcher's mitts, and incredibly muscular thighs, a fact made all the more remarkable when you take into account that Baxter has an activity level that fluctuates daily between that of a garden slug and a geranium. A dead geranium.

While originally bred in the 1800s in Germany to drag badgers out of their dens (Dachshund, in German, means "badger dog"), somewhere deep in Baxter's genetic makeup that particular gene—you know, the one that enables movement—has gone kaput, another German word that, loosely translated, means "Beggin' Strips eater." Yes, in a world where Dachshunds are categorized as either "mini," "tween," or "standard," Baxter is what one might call a "maxi." He's not a wiener dog as much as he is a bratwurst behemoth.

Every trip to the vet usually begins with my wife and I being admonished for feeding Baxter too much. We honestly don't. He's just, I don't know, big! I know the term is usually reserved for women of a certain physical type, but Baxter really is built like a brick shithouse. Run your hand along his body and you feel solid muscle. Granted, the muscle lies under a good inch of squishy, surprisingly comforting adipose tissue, but Baxter is still as solid as rock. Well, if that rock had a little give to it. The vet also reminds us that when lifting a Dachshund, it's very important to make sure that you support their backs, given their unique physical structure. I then remind the vet it's equally important, when lifting Baxter, that I support my back due to his unique physical structure. He is a load. But a deeply loved load. Although, he certainly doesn't make it easy—particularly on me.

Most mornings usually dawn with a twenty-five-pound black-and-tan blur landing smack on my chest where, after making sure all of my ribs are still intact, I endure a thorough face licking. And where most people are cognizant of their morning breath, Baxter fails to take that into consideration, bathing me in a noxious mixture of kibble, rawhide, and an underlying layer of something akin to dirt. Actually, now that my scent memory is kicking in, forget "akin to"—it is dirt! Baxter occasionally eats dirt. Not all of the time, but just enough so it's not unusual for me to emit a subtle, topsoil tang throughout the day. After my ritual cleansing, it's time for Baxter's morning constitutional, or as I've come to call it, the Walk of Shame. Mine, not his.

There is a reason I can only dream of walking all three of our dogs together: We did it in reality. Once. The reason why that one en masse walk turned so quickly from pleasant to problematic was indeed Baxter. Or, to be more specific, his highly inquisitive nose.

Every street sign and every mailbox, every blade of grass and every puddle, has a story to tell, and if there's one thing Baxter loves, it's a good story. The smellier the better. Maya and Molly are just as interested in the story; it's just that where Maya and Molly are content with skimming the blurbs on the book's back cover, Baxter's starting with chapter one and he's not moving until he gets to the acknowledgments in the back of the book. We walk three paces, and our canine convoy comes to a sudden, screeching stop as Baxter takes in the beguiling bouquet of a rock for the next sixty seconds. Three more paces, and he's investigating the aroma of a manhole cover. Maya and Molly are configured like they're right in the middle of a heated game of Twister, and Baxter is nostril deep in a search for some kind of olfactory forensic evidence. And then, to make matters worse, here comes my neighbor Gary with his three dogs. Look at 'em! Walking with the precision of newly minted marines, while Gary works those leashes like he's vying for the lead in the Iditarod. I'm nursing first- or possibly second-degree friction burns on my ankles, and Gary's walking and waving, smile on his face, like he's a balloon handler in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. With every precise paw step, his dogs are rubbing salt in my fresh, weeping wounds.

What should have been a pleasant, uneventful, fifteen-minute stroll around the block, turned into a forty-minute canine equivalent of a heated rugby match but with more pain and considerably less sportsmanship.

The terrible tangle of leashes, the relentless, auditory assault of multipitch barking, the insistent pulling toward every point of the compass: it was just terrible for Melissa and myself. The dogs survived, no worse for wear. Shortly after we managed to untangle the Gordian-like knot of collars and leashes—and debated whether or not the wounds on my ankles would leave a scar—Melissa and I were immersed in what can only be described as a sort of posttraumatic walk syndrome. The mere sight of those three, snakelike leashes hanging on the cold, metal hook in the garage was enough to set off a flashback to rival any from 'Nam, replete with the echoing jangle of actual dog tags, the accusatory, daggerlike eyes of my annoyed neighbors, and that relentless, awful barking!

The barking.

The barking.

And so, Baxter walks alone. It's for the best, really. Baxter gets the kind of one-on-one attention he requires, Maya and Molly avoid getting garroted by their own leashes, and every so often I get to dream of a walk that was like, well, simply a dream.


When he's not following his nose into the wilds of suburban New Jersey, Baxter's days are filled with the kind of activities you'd expect him to have: nothing. Although, when the weather cooperates and the sun is out, you can often find him lying in the middle of the driveway working on his "black-and-tan."

When he's had his fill of sunbathing he retreats to the coolness of his club chair, where he spends the balance of his day sleeping, yawning, sleeping, stretching and other things that bear a striking resemblance to the act of sleeping. He'll occasionally sachet to the water bowl and, after a few lazy laps of his tongue make his way back to his chair where he'll continue his daily homage to the sin of sloth. And, that pretty much encapsulates Baxter's day. That is, until the sun goes down.

We call it his witching hour, although "bitching" hour would be just as appropriate. That's when we're reminded, in no uncertain terms, that Baxter is, like all dogs, a descendant of wolves. But there is no howling. No tearing at the grass or barking at the moon. No, Baxter's ancient ancestry manifests itself in a behavior that is as unique as it is unsettling: He stares.

At me.

Endlessly.

He doesn't do it to convince me to let him outside or to give him a treat or to get out of his chair—which, by the way, I used to consider my chair. I've arrived at the conclusion that Baxter stares at me for the sake of staring. And it gets to the point where it gives me the creeps. Do you have any idea how hard it is to watch a television program while being eyeballed by Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs?

It puts the tennis ball in my mouth or else it gets the hose.

He starts his assault from a distance of perhaps fifteen feet, his eyes boring into mine. And, the more I tell myself, "don't look at him," the more my eyes dart from the flatscreen to the black-and-tan rock. He advances slowly, almost imperceptibly. He takes one measured step. He stops. He stares. Motionless. It's like a scene from Animal Planet. Baxter, the dark and stealthy Dachshund, looks out upon the vast expanse of the Serengeti Plains (which, in this case, looks a lot like imitation wood floors), intent on his prey, me, a neurotic Jewish guy from Long Island, with a questionable flight response and a penchant for colorful language. Okay, it's not exactly like Animal Planet. Another quiet step. Don't give him the satisfaction, I try to convince myself. How many times was I told as a kid that staring is rude? After a few minutes of this abuse we've leapfrogged right over rude and landed on cruel and highly unusual punishment. He is, without a doubt, the most relentless, driven, focused dog I have ever met. He does not know the word quit. And when he does stop staring, it's simply because I've grown tiresome to him and not because he's feeling guilty about driving me almost to the point of neurosis. By the time Baxter is done with me, I'm a diminished, discarded, damaged toy.

It was during one of these typical staring/psychological torture sessions that I realized something. There was certainly nothing out of the ordinary about the moment: Baxter. Me. Staring. Just another round of ocular torment, typical stuff. But, for whatever reason, in a glance—one of thousands of glances at him—I saw something else, something that went beyond dog. When I looked in his eyes I saw intent. That all this time, he wasn't just staring at me simply because it amused him to mentally break a person—which, for the record, I do think he rather enjoys. This moment was something else: he was trying to tell me something.

His big, brown eyes locked on mine, Baxter had a message for me, something he felt I needed to know. Something that had nothing to do with getting my ass out of his chair. Now, excuse me while I wax anthropomorphically here, but I could swear that Baxter was speaking to me. Obviously not in words, but with a look. He was speaking in silence. He was most definitely trying to tell me something.

Turns out in this particular instance his staring was not torture: it was teaching.

And with an expression devoid of any expression, Baxter was providing me with a lesson that I, for more years than I could count or care to remember, was in dire need of. Baxter was training me.


Like most copywriters, I absolutely hate writing copy.

In my mind, writing marketing copy falls just below writing greeting cards but slightly above writing obituaries—and on some days, even that line is a rather hazy blur. And, as with most copywriters, I harbored a desire to write something beyond headlines and body copy. Even if what I had to say was of no interest to anyone else, I would feel fulfilled to write something that belonged solely to me. Well, maybe not fulfilled, but certainly better. Probably better.

But something often happens to writers, or, at least something happened to this writer: you start to seriously and regularly doubt your ability to write. It doesn't matter if other people acknowledge your ability; it doesn't matter if people refer to you as a writer. It doesn't even matter if your title is "writer." You sometimes stare at the words on the page and they seem false. They simply become a senseless, pointless series of upstrokes, downstrokes, and serifs.

They don't work. They don't even come close to capturing whatever it was you bled to express.

I suck!

Those are the words that best capture how I feel when to my eyes and my mind the lines on the page resemble nothing more than, well, lines on a page.

Write a book?

Uh, I don't think so.

Even as I write these words, words that may or may not be passing before someone's eyeballs other than my own, it seems laughable. I am sitting here looking at my fingers fly across the keyboard, and somewhere in the not-so-deep recesses of my mind I hear this:

Are you serious? You can't do this. Who are you to do this? You can't write a book: you write headlines. You don't have it in you, and even if by some miracle you do, there's no way you can get it out. You're stuck. You are and always will be a writer of advertising copy, not a writer of books. Stay in the shallow end of the literary pool, headline boy!

And that is where I have stayed: treading the piss-warmed, spit-infused, Band- Aid–clogged shallow end of the literary pool. Actually, right about now, composing obituaries doesn't sound all that bad.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Hounded by Matt Ziselman. Copyright © 2014 Matt Ziselman. Excerpted by permission of Center Street.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2013

    Dachshund owner

    This is a great book. Own 2 of my own and thought they shared alot of the same traits as the 3 in the book. Hope to read more about them in the future.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A refreshing little book with down to earth, poignant examples o

    A refreshing little book with down to earth, poignant examples of life with 3 doxies as well as life in general. A light, enjoyable read, especially for anyone who lives with a dachshund.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Stephen Brayton for Readers' Favorite How the lives

    Reviewed by Stephen Brayton for Readers' Favorite

    How the lives of three dachshunds influence the perspective of their owners. That's what Hounded is all about: looking at the actions, reactions, and personalities of dogs and relating them to the life of Matt Ziselman. He begins the book by sharing the story of how he met his first pet, a German Shepherd, as a young boy. Then he jumps to his current adult life, married with children and the trio of canines in his household. Baxter, the 25-pounder; Maya, the emotionally scarred older dog; and Molly, the happy-go-lucky vicious licker. In every chapter he discusses the quirks, habits, and eccentricities of the dogs. These include: Molly's eating of poop, Baxter's attempts at dominance over the others, and Maya's phobias about the front entrance, hall, and stairs. Then Ziselman will relate these doggie-dos to particular instances within his own life. He'll discuss, upon more than one occasion, his parents' deaths, his own brand of OCD, and how he shouldn't worry so much.

    This is not your typical let's-talk-about-my-special-pet book. I love animal books and learning about the pets in people's lives. Ziselman, however, sets out to give us, and himself, life lessons. In fact, he calls them Dachshund Life Lessons. At the end, however, he changes those to Life Reminders. The circumstances, personalities, and decisions he discusses in Hounded are those to which many people can relate. We've all done similar things, have similar quirks. He blends humor and serious, tear-jerker material well. At first, I was a bit put off by his use of profanity, but it works. So, buyer beware, that this is not a children's doggie book. This is for adults. I listened to the audio version which added the extra nice quality of hearing a narrator's inflections which further brought out the humor. And with a discussion of dogs, you can't go wrong.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 21, 2013

    I picked this book up in my local Barnes and Noble bookstore (I

    I picked this book up in my local Barnes and Noble bookstore (I might add I am so relieved a few bookstores actually remain with all the push to Nook) because the cover caught my eye. Once I read the inside flap, I was intrigued, especially since I have two dachshunds myself. Well I was very glad I bought this book! What a total delight! The author is witty, and the prose just flows! I could not put the book down once I started it! I felt like I knew these three dogs by the time I finished! Don't miss this delightful read. I eagerly await Matt Ziselman's next novel!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2013

    I have had Dachshunds all my life. Reading Hounded was a very e

    I have had Dachshunds all my life. Reading Hounded was a very enjoyable experience as I recognized so many of the individual habits I have seen in all my Dachshunds. Ziselman has such a humorous way of describing each action that I actually laughed out loud so much that I sometimes had tears in my eyes. I hope to see more of these stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    If you love dogs, you will love this book!

    The cover of this book is what drew me in. Its a picture of 3 dachshunds and I have 3 dachshunds myself. How could I not read it based on that aspect alone? I'm glad I did read it because it was so much more than an adorable cover. Its like Matt was speaking about my life with my quirky dachsunds! It was an enjoyable read and proves that your dogs can teach you life lessons you just need to open your mind and pay attention :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    If You Ever Had A Dachshund...

    You will be sure to fall in love with this book about three adopted Dachsies and how they helped to teach their owner some moving life lessons. It is a wonderful and quite moving (and sometimes will make you laugh as well as cry.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    There ate are aye aue aie aoe apeaqeawref

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    1 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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